Potsa Lotsa, the moveable feast headed by saxophonist/clarinetist Silke Eberhard, began life in 2010 as a wind quartet, debuting with The Complete Works Of Eric Dolphy
(Jazzwerkstatt, 2011), an innovative tribute to the tragically short-lived multi-reedist. The quartet expanded to an octetPotsa Lotsa Plusfor Plays Love Suite By Eric Dolphy
(Jazzwekstatt, 2014), breathing new life into a little-known Dolphy work that was incomplete at the time of his death. Potsa Lotsa XL featured even more hands in 2017, but with a focus on Eberhard's own compositions. With Gaya,
the tentet once again navigates Eberhard's singular compositions, with Korean gayageum (plucked zither) player Youjin Sung bringing a distinctive flavor to the mix.
Five tunes totalling just under thirty minutes constitutes an EP in these times of digitally bloated recordings, but Eberhard packs more than most into her multi-layered, visceral charts. Harmonically rich and rhythmically lithe, curiously angular and borderline dissonant, sometimes all at once, Eberhard may lean on her muses Charles Mingus
and Eric Dolphy, but there is an unmistakably contemporary edge to the music. This is due only in part to the pairing of jazz ensemble and gayageuma staple of Korean folk music for centuries. It is how Eberhard orchestrates the raw material and the tools, however, that makes Gaya
such a rewarding experience.
Having played a number of duo concerts with Sung during lockdown in 2020, Eberhard was inspired to compose this suite with the Korean in mind. On the opening track "Hana" subtle nods to Korean folk music can be traced in Kay Lübke's dry, bass drum thud and more sharply so in Jürgen Kupke's keening clarinet, which evokes the typically free spirit of the piri, or Korean oboe. But a few pitch-bending solo interludes aside, Sung's gayageum is integrated into the ensemble sound, adding bottom-end depth to unison passages and forging a number of striking partnerships.
On the intro to "Dul," Sung weaves a woozy pas de deux with double bassist Igor Spallati
. Sung, pianist Antonis Anissegos
and vibraphonist Taiko Saito weave knotty threads on "Sed," an episodic jaunt that toggles between dense abstraction, ethereal beauty, cacophonous celebration and full-throttle swing. Striking too, Sung's ability to conjure dreamy soundscapes and glissandi of harp-like textures.
Like a bird of brilliant plumage infiltrating a murmuration, Sung's contributions are standout, particularly one extended solo and a fascinating three-way dialogue with bassist Spallati and cellist Johannes Fink's on "Ned," the EP's most ambitious track. Yet on a suite notable for its sparsity of solos, it is the unified ensemble sound that exercises greatest hold. Eberhard's compositionsbold in structure, fluid in dynamics, unpredictable in the best possible waysdemand close listening. For the patient, those prepared for a long seduction, repeated listening will gradually unveil a wealth of riches.
Short in duration Gaya
may seem, but it is impossible to quantify or valorize music as imaginative and as brilliantly executed as this.
Hana; Dul; Sed; Ned; Daseot.
Youjin Sung: gayageum; Patrick Braun: clarinet.